Path of creation


POSTED: Sunday, December 20, 2009

Despite talent and a tendency toward creativity, an artist's path to artmaking isn't always a direct one. Take Hans Loffel, who's spent his entire career in graphic design. Though the work allowed him some latitude in indulging his creative inclinations, it was but one stepping stone along his path toward fine artmaking.

“;There's always a creative side to design—but within the constraints of purpose,”; he says.

Over the years, Loffel's work has brought him in contact with many fine artists; he's become the go-to guy for a number of them who need invitations designed for their exhibitions. But instead of getting paid for his services, the artists have often traded art.





        On exhibit: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, through Jan. 15, 2010

Place: Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery, Hawaii Loa campus, 45-045 Kamehameha Highway


Call: 544-0287




“;I have quite a collection of local artists' work,”; he says. “;I think you have a closer relationship with artists if you collect their work because you start talking about the art.”;

All that discussion inspired Loffel to learn more about artmaking, and in 1995, he began taking workshops at the Academy Art Center. His interest also took him to the mainland for further study.

Today, Loffel is keeping himself busy as a fine artist, and a collection of some 20 works from the past couple of years are on exhibit at the Hawaii Pacific University Art Gallery in “;Two Dimensions.”; The show features prints, acrylics, watercolors, drawings and mixed-media pieces.

“;I've found that I'm doing less and less graphic design, and more and more art,”; says Loffel. “;The creative spark is always there, and I can do things in art that don't have a specific purpose. I can get into the technique of doing things. I do a woodblock print if the subject is suitable to woodblock. I also do pencil throwing work. I try to find the right medium for what I want to do.”;

Loffel still continues to produce graphic design work—“;It's always great to get paid when you're done”;—because he wants his art to be free of commercial considerations.

“;You cannot expect to be paid for what you create as art,”; he says. “;But I like doing both.”;

THE WORK in “;Two Dimensions”; shows the range of Loffel's aesthetic. Not only does he work in various media, he is drawn to creating both organic and geometric works and even mixes the two. One painting combines the geometric theme with a portrait of a familiar island site. Other mixed-media pieces incorporate flora. Many of the artist's works are inspired by plant life he finds in his environment.

“;I am influenced by the straight line, but I also like nature,”; he says.

Loffel admits he also has a thing for birds, and his early artwork included whimsical drawings and paintings of bird caricatures. He says he stopped producing those because they lacked the serious tone of fine art. In their place, some of the HPU work includes abstract representations of the animals in flight.

Loffel grew up in Switzerland and moved to England when he was 21 to learn English. From there, he moved to Paris to “;perfect my French”; and then, a couple years later, emigrated to Canada and lived in Montreal for 14 years, employing both his English and French skills.

But the artist still hadn't found a place to settle in for good.

“;I got tired of the long winters, and it just so happened I met a woman who got offered a job in Hawaii,”; he recalls.

Loffel professes the move here was his last.

“;I love everything from the weather to the food to the people,”; he says. “;I will die here.”;